11.19.2014 | 12:47 pm


A Note for Kindle-Loving Friends of Fatty: I know that a lot of people these days prefer to read their books as e-books. In fact, I am one of those people. So it bothered me that I couldn’t figure out a way to make it possible to pre-order an e-book version of The Great Fatsby and still be entered in the contest to win the Ibis of your choice, not to mention have 25% of the profits go to World Bicycle Relief.

Well, I woke up at 4:00am today with an epiphany. Now I know how to do it, and it’s not even all that hard. Well, it will require some work on my end, but it’s do-able. 

The catch is, to keep the logistics from being entirely insane, I need to make Kindle the only e-book format this pre-order will work with. I’m OK with that; it seems like an acceptable compromise.

So, starting right now, you can pre-order a Kindle version of this book. Just click here to pre-order, and you’ll get a code emailed to you on December 10 to download the book.

Or, if you’re giving the Kindle version of the book as a gift, you can specify their name and email (and a gift message if you like) and the code will be sent to them on December 10. Easy.



I was on one of those long rides last summer, the kind where you’ve been out for a couple hours and have another few hours to go. You’re on a road you’ve ridden many times before and there’s not much new to see.

It was the kind of ride that lets your mind detach a little bit. To wander. 

And while I was thus wool-gathering, a question occurred to me—one that has grabbed me and gnawed at me ever since.

If I take me as I am, then subtract the bicycle, what do you have left?

It’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not even an easy question to interpret. But I’ve been considering it from a few angles.

How Big a Part?

I started listing the ways the bike is a part of my life. 

  • It’s more or less the only way I (enjoy) exercising. I ride a bike probably six days a week.
  • It’s how I stayed stable and centered when Susan was ill, and after she died.
  • It’s how I met The Hammer. 
  • It’s how my wife and I spend our time together. Sure, we occasionally go to a movie or restaurant, but more than anything else, we ride together.
  • It’s what I spend a couple hours each day writing about. Right now, for example.
  • It’s what I think about. When I’m not on a bike, I check bike blogs and news sites and bike manufacturer sites and racing sites and think about my next ride and think about racing. 
  • It’s how I make a difference. For whatever good I’ve done in the world, a huge chunk of it can be attributed to the bike. I raise money with bikes, I give bikes away, I go to charity rides, and I encourage all of you to do the same.
  • It’s what my friends do. Almost without exception, my best friends in the world…all ride bikes. And not casually, either. It’s what we do together. Most of us started in the same company (WordPerfect) long ago, but the bike gives us a reason to stay in touch and do something together.
  • It’s how I make friends. I’ve made a lot of friends through this blog. A lot of these friendships now transcend the bike, but the bike is still a part of all these friendships.
  • It’s tied to an important personal anniversary. Every year I do The Leadville 100. It’s more than a race to me, it’s a big chunk of who I am and how I think about myself. 

That is…a lot. And I’ve spent some time thinking about how my life would be different—how I would be different—if bikes were somehow subtracted from my life.

In a Non-Bike Universe…

Imagine a world where, for whatever reason, the bike simply does not exist. At all. Never has. How would I be different?

Would I still exercise? Would I have been able to be as good as I was to Susan? What would The Hammer and I do together? Would we have ever connected at all? What would I be writing right now (or during the past ten years)? About something different? Anything at all? 

Would I have ever become passionate about fundraising? 

I don’t know the answer at all to some of these questions. I can guess at others. I think I’d still exercise—before I had cycling, I played racquetball a few days each week, and I rollerbladed (yes rollerbladed) to work and back each day, about eight miles each way. Don’t judge, that’s where my quads came from.

But I think exercise would just be something I do—not something I love, not one of the defining characteristics of me.

Maybe The Hammer and I would have gotten together; after all, our first date was a run, not a ride. But because we each are faster / stronger than the other in one of these two events, we have great balance and understanding of the other. I don’t know how our relationship would be different without the bike, but I do know it would be massively different.

I wrote—a lot—before I ever took up biking; I’m sure I’d be writing something. Maybe Random Reviewer would have survived if I hadn’t been focusing on bikes so much. But probably not.

More importantly than any of these one activities, though, is who I’d be if there were no bikes. Would I have experienced the catalytic moments that have made me do so much fundraising? I kind of doubt it, to be honest. I don’t by nature go seeking things like that out. 

Because of the bike, they’ve come to me and I have helped a lot of people make the world a better place.

Of course, there’s no way to check this. No way to verify who I would be in this universe. But I think about it, and I can’t help but be incredibly glad and grateful for what the bike has given me, for what it has made me into.

If Bikes Were Taken Away From Me

The other way I could interpret this question is, “What if I couldn’t ride?” In other words, what if something were to happen to me and I could no longer ride my bike?

It’s incredible, really, how physical my reaction is when I consider this question. I become literally queasy. My anxiety level jumps to the level of near-panic, and I feel smothered. Believe me when I say that I’m not exaggerating here.

I think this is because while a “universe without bicycles” thought experiment is mildly interesting, this second interpretation of the “Who am I without bicycles” question is a little too real of a possibility. 

What if I had an accident? What if I had a disease? And because of whatever the circumstance is, I just couldn’t ride anymore? Ever again?

Yes, there it is again: that feeling.

Regardless of whether I think about bikes too much, they’ve become such an enormous part of me that it affects me physically to consider myself without them as a part of my life. It’s like considering what my life would be like without air. That sounds like hyperbole, I know, but take a look at how I described how I feel: it’s not that different from how I’d describe what it feels like to be held under water.

Still, it’s worth thinking about for a minute, because it’s instructive. To consider how important something is in your life, consider the universe without it. Then, make it personal: consider it being taken away from you. 

And then, be grateful for it.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. Consider the question, “If you take yourself as you are, then subtract the bicycle, what do you have left?

I’ll be very interested to read your responses.


  1. Comment by David | 11.19.2014 | 1:18 pm

    Just so you know, this is not a pleasant thought experiment.

    If bikes didn’t exist:
    – I’d drive more
    – I’d weigh more
    – I’d watch more TV and read more books
    – I’d spend less time online
    – I’d go outside a lot less
    – I’d have very few friends

    If bikes were taken away, one or more of these would occur:
    – I’d drink a lot of booze
    – Cut most social ties
    – Deep depression
    – Wife would divorce me [due to the previous 3 points]
    – Chase powder [snow] until the money ran out
    – Dead [one way or another] within 5 years

    Cycling is too much of who I am. I have a very hard time imagining it not here. If I subtract the bicycle, there’s really not much left.

  2. Comment by Noel | 11.19.2014 | 1:22 pm

    I can actually answer this question for myself since, up until about 4 years ago, I was me minus the bike. The answer is that I think I was fine. I was (and am, I hope) a good husband, the best father I could be, and a productive member of society. Now, however, I think I’m still all those things but more besides. I’m healthier, happier, and more relaxed. I could go back to being the pre-bike me if I had to but I assure you I wouldn’t like it and it wouldn’t be pleasant. Bikes are very much at the core of who I am, what I do, and what I think about these days. I hope it never changes.

  3. Comment by Jeremy | 11.19.2014 | 1:27 pm

    …Is this your Thanksgiving post Fatty?
    Wow… As a youth – I would not have had my first teenage job, a paper route. I would not have had much to do with my neighborhood friends (and puppylove) and I would have ridden a bus to school.
    As a grownup – I would still be super overweight, depressed, a loner, and likely divorced…
    I am so thankful for the health, happiness, friends and sanity that my bikes have returned to me over the last 5 years of riding (I’m 45)

    Thanks for reminding me to be thankful…

  4. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 11.19.2014 | 1:57 pm

    Interesting question, one I can relate to very well.
    Basketball was once a huge part of my life. I met my wife through Basketball, my wife’s family is basketball obsessed and her younger sisters told her she needed to meet ‘Larry Bird’ as the called me after seeing me play. BBall is what I did three times a week winter league, summer league, pick up games. My wife and I would play at the local gym the two of us against three random guys, we hardly ever lost. BBall was a huge part of who I was and what I did, it defined me.
    Then 3 1/2 years ago I sat in a surgeon’s office to find out why my knee pain would not go away. The surgeon said I would need surgery, which I expected, and then when I asked how long the rehab would be before I could hit the court I heard words that knocked the wind out of my sails “you would be a fool to ever play basketball again. You have no cartalidge in either knee.
    I asked what can I do to stay in shape. Bike, or swim, was the response. I bought a low end road bike because I didn’t think I would like riding.
    Well low and behold I love riding. I ride 3 to 4 times a week, race occasionally, and love to be on my bike.
    So what if cycling was stripped from me – I would mourn the loss of something I love, I would be angry, I would complain, and then I would find something else that I could enjoy, because those of us who like being active will always be active.
    After finding that new activity I would miss riding, and boy would the legend of my abilities grow when I told stories. Just like when I remember playing basketball I don’t recall missing many shots.

  5. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.19.2014 | 2:22 pm

    They would call ‘Fatty’.

  6. Comment by MtlDan | 11.19.2014 | 2:25 pm

    Studies show that people who go through a terrible loss (lose their legs, or their eyesight, or their children) after about 3 years are just as happy as before the change. Humans have an amazing ability to adapt.

    I hope my amazing ability to adapt is never used.

  7. Comment by TK | 11.19.2014 | 2:49 pm

    I would have more garage space…that is for sure. And probably a little more spending money.

    I’ve never allowed myself to get too involved in any one particular hobby. I try to have at least one hobby for each season and am happy to put a hobby away when that season is over so I can start doing one of my other hobbies.

    However, I don’t know if I could be truly happy if I didn’t have big mountains close by. I love to ride my bike(s) in them. I love to go hiking/backpacking/snowshoeing/skiing in them. And I REALLY love standing on the top of them.

    Could I live without them? Sure. Would I do it on purpose? Never.

  8. Comment by yannb | 11.19.2014 | 2:50 pm

    Good questions indeed.

    Before I really got into biking, ie wanting to ride practically every day, windsurfing was my addiction. If you think biking is a time consuming sport, try windsurfing where you are literally chasing the wind, ie back before cell phones/smart phone, you had to rely on knowing what the wind conditions might be at different spots based on the weather in the area. I have driven around for hours chasing wind numerous times, only to get there and find out from others that I should have been there a couple of hours ago.
    However when the wind was good, windsurfing was fun. Windsurfing under the golden gate bridge at sunset is the most spectacular, the San Francisco skyline is lit up by the setting sun. Windsurfing in Maui in warm water with just shorts is another wonderful experience. However, windsurfing requires lots of gear, numerous sails, boards, masts, booms, etc… that you have to transport cause you don’t know what board/sail combo you might need because of the conditions. I was 25, single and had a minivan to transport my 3 boards, 6 sails and all the other stuff. And the gear is not cheap. I windsurfed practically every day during the windsurfing season (april-september).

    In 2004 I discovered road biking, admittedly because I watched Lance in the Tour de France and thought it looked like fun. I got hooked and have been riding since.
    I could go out for an hour for a quick loop and get a great work out or go out for a few hours with friends as we chased each other on the back roads of marin county. It helped me deal with my depression, getting through my divorce, it has helped me lose weight, it helps me clear my head when my mind is in a fog. Most of all, if it wasn’t for the bike I wouldn’t be married to Karen today (long story).

    I love that I can go for a ride right from my house without ever getting in the car. The only thing I have to bring with me is my cell phone, some money, a few shot blocks and maybe a vest and arm warmers. A far cry from having to have a minivan to transport all my gear.

    I too have had the thought of what would happen to me if I could no longer bike. It would not be good. I would eat just as much, watch more tv, gain weight, go back into deep depression, become anti social and lose my friends, be cranky all the time, become a bad father and bad husband.

    Sorry I went long Elden, you hit a nerve for me.

  9. Comment by Jeff Bike | 11.19.2014 | 2:53 pm

    Thank you for making the Kendal version available as a preorder. Order = Done.

    I’m like Bart in that I have wrecked knees. So when I picked up riding about 8 1/2 years ago it was one of the few exercises I could do. In fact at the rate of decline that I was experiencing I would be on wheels by now anyways. Only they would likely be a wheel chair and don’t get me started about my blood pressure! Trying to think of how life would be without my bikes makes my head hurt, so I wont do that anymore.

  10. Comment by Amanda | 11.19.2014 | 3:07 pm

    This year has been my first real cycling season — 2000+ miles ridden, including 2 century rides. I’d finally found the one form of exercise that I enjoyed and *wanted* to get out and do. It allowed me to work through the swirls of stuff in my head, and come back home a better wife and mom. My kids admitted that they liked the calmer me. I did too.

    At the same time I was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder, one that has given me faulty collagen as building blocks in my body. It causes my joints to be hypermobile, tachycardia spells when I change positions, and my spine is starting to fuse because of years and years of chronic inflammation. My biggest fear was being told I couldn’t ride, because getting out on the bike is my saving grace most days.

    It’s been a dance between myself and my doctors. I know they want to say no riding, but I’m standing my ground (with research in hand) that low impact exercise is beneficial. I know that I’ll have to find that magic mileage that pushes me without hurting my body. And as years go by, there very well might be a day where the Cannondale gets retired. Truthfully, the thought makes my breath catch in my throat; I can only hope there are many, many, many miles between now and that day.

  11. Comment by Christina | 11.19.2014 | 3:12 pm

    I’d have to walk everywhere, because I sold my car and ride my bike.

    I also would have struggled to talk the other day with my young son about body image. He, as a result of the car selling, also bikes a lot and has developed rather large quads for his age (9). He was distraught that he was bigger than the other kids. Luckily, we were able to watch the USA Pro Challenge in person this summer and he met Jens Voigt and many other pro cyclists. I was able to point out the large legs on those guys and tie it back in. I think without the bike, my kid would just be a “husky” kid, but instead he’s a tiny Tejay in the making.

    If you took my bike, I wouldn’t have had RAGBRAI or BRAN or any other of those awesome week long events.

    I wouldn’t be able to, in the words of Kelly Smith of The Bike Rack in Omaha, “SMILE AND RIDE EVERY DARN DAY.”

    I was not prepared for how sad this exercise just made me.

  12. Comment by Kukui | 11.19.2014 | 3:12 pm

    If Bikes Never Existed
    HA! If bikes never existed, I’d probably still weigh about as much as 3 medium-sized people.

    I started riding my bike three years ago because I was depressed and I wanted to be outside. My bikes have seen me through sadness and depression and ecstasy and triumph.

    There would be a whole bunch of places I’d've never seen, and even more people I wouldn’t have met. At first, I loved cycling because I thought it was antisocial! Now, all my bestest friends are cyclists.

    Early on in my cycling life, I hit a low point and ended up Googling “cycling while fat”. If bikes never existed at all, I’m pretty darn sure I wouldn’t have ever found this blog.

    The odds that, in my moment of self-pity, I would have ever found a reason to Google “roller blading while fat” are very, very slim!

    If I Couldn’t Ride My Bike Anymore
    Having said that, if for some reason I couldn’t ride ever again, I think I’d be okay now.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d be devasted. But, I think I’m on a much sturdier base than I was three years ago.

    And I weigh about 1.5 medium-sized people less than I used to.

    Because of cycling, I know so much more about myself and what I need. Last year, I realized I had fallen into a super-depression over the winter. I’d been riding a cycling-induced endorphin-high the whole year until it was impossible to ride my bike anymore.

    I’ve gotten better at recognizing when my endorphin levels are in free-fall mode and can find ways to deal. I actually started swimming and weight lifting and painting (not at the same time) to get me through the winter.

    While I’d be sad to not ride my bike, I’m a better and stronger person for having done it.

    I would swim and lift weights and paint, and try and find an equivalent sport that can transport me long distances and can remove me just as far from my mind, putting in as much or as little effort as I can possibly give at that moment.

    I was going to say cycling-therapy saved me the cost of any real, professional therapy, but I’m not actually sure which is more expensive. ;)

    Also, I’ve forgotten what my hands look like without the constant oil-smudges.

  13. Comment by leroy | 11.19.2014 | 3:26 pm

    “What would I do if I could not ride” is a real question for me, not a hypothetical.

    I have ridden for a long time. It is part of who I am; it keeps me grounded. It is a refuge where I can be alone with my thoughts when I need to be. It is also a way to not be alone with my thoughts when that is what I need.

    As a rider, I am strong with a huge caveat: “for my age.”

    The older I get, however, the easier it is to be strong “for my age.”

    But I am approaching the age my father was when he had to stop riding.

    I know — in a way I never appreciated and wouldn’t have spent much time thinking about — that the seasons I have left are not unlimited.

    That makes me sad; but it also makes me appreciate — and enjoy more — the simple act of turning the cranks over and over on a long ride.

    Strong or not, I intend to do this as long as I can.

    And if I can find a place to stop for a donut on a long ride… well, what more do I really need?

  14. Comment by NZ Ev | 11.19.2014 | 3:30 pm

    Without Bikes, my partner and I would need a second car as I commute to work by bike. I would be alot more stressed out as biking is my stress relief.

    We would not have come here on a bike tour to New Zealand in 2005, so we probably would not have moved here in 2006.

    I would not exercise as much as I do now. I used to run / jog many years ago, however when I found cycling I quite the running and have never looked back. I would not meet so many people as the bike gets me out and about more with others.

    Being a bit of an introvert, it gives me chance to get out and have “me” time so I can regroup and feel better about everything.

    Riding the bike just makes me feel better all the way around and without it I do not think I would be as active.

  15. Comment by Brian in VA | 11.19.2014 | 4:03 pm

    I’d be different than I am now. I re-discovered the bike 3 years ago while looking for a more interesting way to exercise than pumping a variety of machines at the gym. It’s one of the best forms of exercise and you can do it sitting down! How cool is that?

    I ride about 2000 miles a year, fund raise with my bike, and have gotten my bride to do some riding with me although she’s not gotten the bug. She does enjoy our time together out there.

    I was well rounded when I started to ride again and I still am. I work wood, play pool, make music, write, sing, and find time to work. But I can’t wait until I retire!

    Oddly, I was thinking about my riding if I suffered a devastating injury the other day. I decided that I’d figure out a way to ride; recumbent, hand cycle, whatever – I’d still be out there!

    Until they pry it from my cold dead fingers! (Or something less morbid.)

  16. Comment by Fellowfattychris | 11.19.2014 | 4:21 pm

    Biking was what got me into triathlons, so if I were in a non-bike universe I wouldn’t have running or swimming anymore either. I would probably be mostly into hiking, or I would just be fat and depressed. I guess would have a lot more spending money since I wouldn’t spend it on bikes, races, equipment, etc.

    If bikes were taken away from me, I would still hope to be able to swim and run to stay in shape, but I would be quite depressed because neither of those things brings me the joy that cycling does.

    This is a really depressing post. If I didn’t have the sample pages from your book to cheer me up I would be in a really dark place right now.

    To be sure, it’s a dark post. But remember to consider it in context: you DO have bikes, and you are a pretty darned strong guy on your bike (I’ve seen). Sometimes you need to consider the possibility of lack to appreciate what’s good in your life. – FC

  17. Comment by MattC | 11.19.2014 | 4:52 pm

    I think about this question all the time this last year and a half (what if I can’t ride anymore?). Ever since late July 2013 to be exact. That was when one of the girls in my Velo-club was hit by a car and is now a qadraplegic. She is young (mid-late 30′ish) with two young boys and a husband.

    She did nothing wrong. That blame belongs to the older gentleman who turned left (in a pickup-truck actually, not a car) and somehow didn’t see her and literally ran OVER her (they had to back the truck off the top of her when EMS got there). The accident severed her spinal cord in her neck, along w/ demolishing the C4/5 vertebrae. But she lived.

    So not only does she NOT get to ride anymore, but pretty much EVERYTHING IN HER LIFE that she used to do is no more. We lost more than a few riders from our group after that, most of whom still haven’t come back and have turned to mt biking only.

    I shudder to think of me in her position, and consider myself quite lucky EVERY SINGLE DAY that I am still able to ride, walk, drive, etc etc. Every day I am healthy and able is a gift that I do my best to try and remember to be thankful for.

    And on a happy note, I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much more improved my cycling life would be with an Ibis Ripley 29′er under my butt!

  18. Comment by Grego | 11.19.2014 | 5:22 pm

    Fatty, this is, unfortunately, exactly the question that trials riderMartyn Ashton has had to ask himself. He became paralyzed in an accident in 2013. Here’s Martyn’s article about his post-bike life so far. Read it and then share in this group hug.

    Thanks for pointing me to that. What an extraordinary man Martyn Ashton is. – FC

  19. Comment by NZ Ev | 11.19.2014 | 5:46 pm

    This whole post today has got me thinking about and appreciating cycling, which I probably take for granted at times. Whenever anyone asks me what I do in my freetime, I always tell them I do lots of cycling, it’s my thing, my passion and without I just don’t think my life would be as good

  20. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 11.19.2014 | 5:59 pm

    I started this as a history of how I got here, but then re-read the question. RIGHT NOW, if cycling were taken away from me totally, it would be sad but I’ve always been physically active at something, so that would continue. The reasons I became a “serious” cyclist in the first place are fading and my miles have faded along with them. Road racing – which is the most exciting and exhilarating competition I’ve ever done – is out after a pretty painful crash (cracked vertebrae), which was also a wake up call as to why I can’t afford to get busted up at a hobby. But my enthusiasm has also been clouded by my buddy’s changing family life that has really curtailed his bike riding. So, I’d do more rowing (indoor, mostly now) and hiking as primary physical activities. The “loss” of my friend, who was the impetus for my becoming bike-addicted, is the sad part – I hope he can turn things around and we can again do the epic rides we once did. Fortunately, my wife loves riding, and we still ride some great events. So to answer the question; subtract the bike, and I’m a little less happy person who thinks about his friend a lot.

  21. Comment by Diana | 11.19.2014 | 7:03 pm

    My initial response to being bike-less was ‘Awesome!’. I am a very slow cyclist and it is my least favorite form of exercise. Being dropped by my triathlon team sucks. Period. However, I kind of overlooked the fact that I bike everywhere on my commuter. Take yesterday for example. Without a bike I wouldn’t have made it to the doctor to get a flu shot or to pick up Thai takeout in the evening.

    On second thought, without a bicycle, I’d:
    a) Drive to work. Ew.
    b) Drive to running dates. This seems silly.
    c) Miss out on leisurely Saturday rides + breakfast dates with friends. Sad.
    d) Miss triathlons. Also sad.
    e) Have a lot less money because gas and parking = $$$

    So yes, cycling plays a big part in my life and I should acknowledge that it makes me happy!

  22. Comment by Miles Archer | 11.19.2014 | 7:17 pm

    A better swimmer?

  23. Comment by spaceyace | 11.19.2014 | 7:18 pm

    In a world without bicycles, I’d probably weigh more and not have the friends I have now. (Almost everyone I know where I’ve lived for the past three years I’ve met or bonded with in some way over cycling.) I probably never would have taken up running if training for centuries hadn’t built such confidence in myself.

    I’d probably do a lot more motorcycling. It is the only thing that gets even close to giving me the feeling cycling does.

    I can certainly tell you what it’s like to not be able to cycle in a world where bicycles *do* exist. It sucks. It’s anxiety-inducing. And for me it’s only temporary, only (hopefully) six weeks. My sprained ankle will heal and I’ll get out of this damn boot just in time for the roads to get slick.

  24. Comment by J | 11.19.2014 | 7:29 pm

    Without a bike…

    … I would be holding a bar, attached to only the wrinkled hands that I posses, and a sad but nostalgic look on my face as I glare off into the trees. My mind, thankfully, would fully remember every turn and bump that I ride.

  25. Comment by MikeL | 11.19.2014 | 9:35 pm

    I have been in this position several times when I have had to give up various passions due to health or other circumstances. What I have learned is that you adapt and keep on keeping on. When one door closes there is another door waiting to be opened that will lead you to the next adventure. Your life is a prime example of this. I have a feeling that if bicycling did not exist you would have found a different means to express your caring and compassion.

  26. Comment by roadrash | 11.19.2014 | 9:49 pm

    very interesting question… and I have a vivid picture of the answer.

    Back in 1998 I took my eye off a simple single track trail for a single instant. I clipped a sawed-off tree stump camouflaged in tall grass. Next second I was airborne. And next second I was crumpled with cracked neck vertabrae and a divot in my cheekbone.

    I was extremely lucky. No paralysis. Just pain, weakness and back muscle spasms. Riding was intolerable. My doctor recommended swimming to stay in shape. But the twisting of the neck region for breathing was not working.

    So I focused on racquetball and rollerblading to keep my sanity. Also took long walks. Funny, but I noticed a lot more on the long walks than I do on long rides. Scenery, people, architecture, landscapes. I eventually graduated to spin classes. And met a brand new batch of great friends.

    Meanwhile, I met my wife and started a wonderful family. So things worked out really well away from the bike.

    But I never stopped following the TdF. I still yearned for the long rides, the camaraderie, the urge to catch & pass the rider out front. So 4 years later, I slowly worked my way back onto the bike. First 10 miles, then 20. Eventually made it back to century rides. I’m now routinely knocking out 2000+ miles per year. My kids think I’m half crazy for squeezing into my cycling kit and rolling out on the weekends.

    What would I be without the bike? A less satisfied, less nutty Dad.

    I sure hope I have another 15+ years left in these legs…

  27. Comment by Heidi | 11.19.2014 | 11:14 pm

    Keep this up everyone, and I just may have to get myself a bike one of these days!

  28. Comment by Papuass | 11.20.2014 | 3:52 am

    Great to see Kindle version way cheaper than paper one. An uncommon practice.

  29. Comment by Tom in Albany | 11.20.2014 | 6:02 am

    In short, I would be me. I would respond however I would respond. That would be me, too. If you were to take the bikes away from me now but I could still do something, that would be me.

    I’m me. I would respond how I would respond. You never know until you’re there.

    All that said – very little really – I hope I never have to go there. I really do like riding.

  30. Comment by BamaJim | 11.20.2014 | 7:10 am

    Thought provoking question. While I really like cycling for every reason – exercise, time with friends, competition, transportation, it doesn’t define who I am. Like some others, I’ve had some enforced times away from the bike, due to injuries or extended work related travel to areas where cycling wasn’t a good option. I missed it, but I adapted and was ok. That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for the cycling opportunities I’ve been given though, and I hope they continue – for all of us.

  31. Comment by Jacob | 11.20.2014 | 8:25 am

    This is something I’ve thought about before. I had a bout of iliotibial band syndrome back in the early part of 2012. There were almost two months where I couldn’t run more than a few steps before the side of my right leg got to hurting so bad that I couldn’t bear it. Walking, fine. Riding, fine, after a couple of weeks, but I was too afraid to push my luck so I didn’t and I hadn’t yet gotten into riding as much as a currently am. I was terrified it was never going to change and I was never going to get back to running and riding. I don’t really like swimming and I’ve never been able to stay motivated in a gym, so I was just going to get fat again.

    Then, I finally caved and went to my doctor, who had apparently never heard of ITBS and sent me in for an MRI of my knee assuming it was cartilage, bone, or ligament damage. It cost me $1500 and I went for a run the day after the MRI because it was ITBS and ITBS just eventually goes away with rest AND MY SYMPTOMS WERE THE EXACT SYMPTOMS OF ITBS.

    To be fair, it was probably my fault for going to a general practitioner whose specialty is more lung issues instead of driving 30 miles to the nearest doctor who was an orthopedist or sport medicine guy.

    Anyway, I’ve had a bit of lingering anxiety from that event. Every time I feel a twinge or feel a little bit off, my mind goes instantly to thinking this might be the end. It will happen one day. We can’t all be the 85-year-old finishing the triathlon who then dies suddenly of unrelated causes. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it. Running and the bike have become too large of a part of me since 2010 and it’s the only version of me either of my kids know. There are other aspects of me, and honestly, unlike you with your core of like-minded friends, none of my closest friends and family (except my kids) share my interests, but for me, it’d be like losing half of what it means to be me.

    I’d probably get used to it though. I didn’t do anything similar to what I do know until I turned 30. I used to breathe tennis and actually fell out of love with it when I started running. I don’t really miss it at all. It’s hard to imagine a life where I could no longer run or ride, but I’m adaptable. (Just apparently not all that imaginative.)

  32. Comment by Mayhemnsuz | 11.20.2014 | 11:00 am

    Without bikes I would walk more and take the bus more. I didn’t really ride much until about 4 years ago so I can imagine that easily. Unfortunately, I don’t have to imagine having bikes taken away. That has happened twice in the last four years for months at a time due to back trouble that eventually warranted surgery. The surgery was successful but while recovering and unable to ride, I would dream about being on my bike. I missed it so much.

    Biking and walking are my preferred forms of both exercise and meditation. I am a much more well adjusted person when I’m walking a lot and getting a good long ride on Sunday morning. I was desperate to get back to it. Fortunately, I was back on my bike in May of this year and trained myself up over the summer and completed a 110 mile ride in August. It was fantastic. I was very proud of myself.

    I know that I may have another go round with these issues. I am thankful every time I get out on my bike.

  33. Comment by Scott | 11.20.2014 | 11:57 am

    @Amanda – Stick with it as long as you can. We didn’t figure it out for my wife until last year and with the severity and progression of her EDS she didn’t have the muscle strength to stabilize her joints in order to continue riding.

    She is still able to swim, but had to give up riding on her own. We have gone to a tandem recumbent that provides better support for her back and hips and allows her to coast whenever she can no longer pedal.

    @Fatty – so in answer to your question, biking is very much a part of not just my life, but our family. It is our activity. 2 of my 3 kids have symptoms of the disorder Amanda described and it has been recommended to keep them out of impact sports. We already rode as a family and continuing to do so will literally improve their quality of life in a way that almost nothing else can.

    I could give up commuting by bike and club rides and endurance events, but in order to be the best parent possible family cycling will always be part of our life.

  34. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 11.20.2014 | 12:03 pm

    I don’t like thinking about it. Instead I’m choosing to think about how much better my life would be with MORE bikes in it!

  35. Comment by Brad | 11.20.2014 | 12:22 pm

    That’s a tough one that I usually try not to think about, but… you asked. I’ve been riding for over 25 years, and still love it! Unless I was derailed by a health condition, I would find something else. Bicycling is a means to an end. It’s my fitness routine, my comrade on weekly adventures, my escape from the grind. I dream of epic rides, mountains to conquer, and KOMs to beat… and some days I just want to be outside, riding, regardless of any destination. If I didn’t have bikes, I would look for another outlet.

    Cycling empowers a healthy lifestyle. I want to maintain that regardless of the method. My goal is to be the 60 YO who is pulling the group on club rides and dropping young whipper-snappers!

    Fitness is a preferred, if temporary, position in my life that I want to keep around as long as I am able. I’ll ride until I cannot, and then look for something else!

  36. Pingback by Cyclelicious » Pedals, tacos and Solange rides a bicycle | 11.20.2014 | 12:44 pm

    [...] Fat Cyclist, the novelization. [...]

  37. Comment by Susie H | 11.20.2014 | 1:06 pm

    It’s interesting, because when I first started reading your blog in 2007ish, I was not a cyclist. I was a runner (never fast, but I loved it like I love cycling now). I often thought, what will I ever do if I can’t run anymore. In the meantime, I continued to enjoy your blog, and my husband began mountain biking, taking me along on technically easy rides. I was still running as my main exercise. And still loving it. But then, my body started betraying me, and I panicked a bit, realizing that my running days might be coming to an end. About that time, we decided to ride Livestrong with you in Davis. It was essentially my first road ride. And, I loved it. I’ve been road riding since (albeit still on my trusty mountain bike, both for the extra effort required and the feeling of safety it affords me), and it has become my main form of exercise. Now the thought of not riding my bike anymore is a bit scary much like the thought of not running anymore was, but I know that if that time ever comes…there will be something that I CAN do, and it will likely find me rather than the other way around. This knowledge quiets my soul when I think about the possibility of a life without bikes…

    Thanks, for giving us all regular food for thought and a rear tire to chase!

  38. Comment by Martin Bunge | 11.20.2014 | 1:36 pm

    Fatty, you are writing about my life today. I lost my wife to sarcoma cancer. It was a bike ride that raised money for research into her form of cancer that rekindled my interest in cycling. Through this ride I’ve met some great people and have been able to make a difference in sarcoma cancer research. If I’m not riding, I’m thinking about riding. Cycling is my sanity (some would say it’s my “insanity”). This summer I met a wonderful lady because of that bike ride.

    Cycling is a passion that will serve me well for many, many years. I’m so glad for blogs like yours which reassure me that my passion for cycling is perfectly normal. Keep making me laugh!


  39. Comment by CVR | 11.20.2014 | 2:12 pm

    I used to coach and play soccer pretty much all day every day..then got burnt out. Took up cycling and it consumes my thoughts when I am not riding. Now due to foot issues can’t ride comfortably at all for the past 6 months. It was hard at first but getting easier now that winter has set in. Will get surgery most likely to fix issues but it has made me realize I need to be more rounded and try other things and spend more time with family.

  40. Comment by Dave T | 11.20.2014 | 3:41 pm

    The bike has been part of my life since I can remember, but in the early 2000’s for about 5 years I hardly road any of my bikes. I had started a new job and taking up a new hobby auto racing didn’t leave much time left for riding. During this period I slowly gained a lot of weight and started too suffered from depression. I finally made the time and returned to riding lost a ton of weight and no longer suffer from depression. It’s like food and water to me a real life necessity. It has also lead to some fantastic new friendships many coming from this blog. I can image making that mistake again.

  41. Comment by GT | 11.20.2014 | 4:16 pm

    Thank you for the option of a Kindle pre-order. All paid up and waiting expectantly :)

  42. Comment by Dave T | 11.20.2014 | 4:37 pm

    I can’t image making that mistake again. Did I mention I’m also dyslexic.

  43. Comment by warren g | 11.20.2014 | 4:51 pm

    There is no self therefor there exists nothing from which bicycling may be taken.

    I’ll concede your premise that there is an I for the sake of discussing things to be thankful for Fatty.

    Bicycling has been with me for 35 of my 39 years. I truly believe Mountain Biking exists in a rare and ephemeral strand of activities that combine the endurance and physical fitness derived from the ascent with the adrenaline and death defyingly(not a word) necessary attention to the present moment of the descent.

    For this I am truly grateful.

    Think of other activities that lies in bicycling’s special place.
    Snowboarding? descent/yes, ascent/nope.
    Hiking? descent/nah, ascent/maybe if you walk fast.
    Running!!? descent/nine, ascent/who runs up hills?

    Where were we? oh yes bicycling…

  44. Comment by jackob | 11.21.2014 | 9:43 am

    I don’t like thinking about it. Instead I’m choosing to think about how much better my life would be with MORE bikes in it!

  45. Comment by warren g | 11.21.2014 | 10:53 am

    Think of other activities that reside in bicycling’s special place.
    Well now it just sounds a little dirty but at least it is grammatically correct.

  46. Comment by Sunny | 11.21.2014 | 12:45 pm

    What a great blog today. Thanks

  47. Comment by Jill Homer (@AlaskaJill) | 11.22.2014 | 1:09 am

    Great post. It does make you think. I agree with others who have said that we would all find ways to change and adapt. But it’s a great question to ask oneself about any part of our lives.

  48. Comment by Mark | 11.22.2014 | 7:29 am

    I’ve been riding and doing tris off all distances for almost 20 years now. In 2008, I noticed that I was getting winded on very short runs or even walking up the stairs. Also my heart would just start pounding for no reason. Next, couldn’t sleep and lost almost 20 lbs I really couldn’t afford to lose. Long story short, after several tense weeks, I was diagnosed with Graves disease, which cause hyper-thyroid, which basically had my whole metabolism in overdrive. I actually felt very fortunate, because this is very treatable, but sometimes hard to diagnose.

    It took almost 2 months for my thyroid to get back down to normal after I went on meds. I sent an email to Karen Smyers — a very successful pro tri-athlete who had her thyroid removed due to cancer — and returned to competition. She graciously took the time to email me back with words of encouragement, which really meant a lot to me. During that two months, I put away my Felt B2 with the aerobars and would go for 5 mile rides through my neighborhood or on the local bike path. This experience really showed me how much I had been taking biking and the ability to active totally for granted. Like Fatty described, there was a pretty big hole in my life across multiple dimensions. Those short rides up and down the Olentangy river really changed my perspective.

    Since then, I’ve done IMLP and Mohican 100 MTB. If biking were taken away permanently, would I be less me? I don’t know, but I know from my short experience, I would be pretty sad. On the other hand, I think I enjoy each ride just a tiny bit more because of my brief experience.

  49. Comment by rb | 11.22.2014 | 7:18 pm

    Take away the bike, and you lose:
    - patience
    - strength
    - purpose

    take away the bike and you gain:
    - peevishness
    - weight
    - sulkitude

    i’d rather have the patience, strength, and purpose. they keep the peevishness, weight and sulkitude at bay

  50. Comment by Jimbo | 11.23.2014 | 12:34 am

    I started riding a bike when I was 12. I had been a fat, sickly kid up until then, but once I started riding all the time it transformed me. Before long I found out I could ride a bike faster than any of the other kids at my middle school, and I was profoundly grateful to have found a physical activity where I could excel instead of being laughed at.

    I soon met some “real” cyclists and started riding and training with them. I entered my first USCF (ABLA at that time) race when I was 13, and raced on the road and track for ten years. After that, things like marriage, parenthood, and career came first, but I kept riding as often and as hard as I could until two years ago.

    My downfall was overuse injuries. From age 17 on, I was almost always either injured or on the verge of it, and I was too passionate about the sport to rest and let things heal fully. That all caught up with me a couple years ago. I won’t go into the details, but the upshot is that at 60 I’ve all but given up cycling.

    To my own surprise, I no longer miss it all that much. Maybe I could have kept riding longer by riding more “sensibly”, but instead I did it passionately, extravagantly, foolishly – and I have no regrets because (cue violins) I did it my way.

    And I’ve found other methods for staying fit. None of them inspires me to the kinds of efforts that cycling did, but that’s probably a good thing because I finally can exercise sensibly and maybe even have a shot (knock on wood) at staying injury-free. Life goes on…

  51. Comment by bikemike | 11.23.2014 | 4:42 pm

    The Hulk but not in a good way.


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